Gloria Feldt, president of Take the Lead, redefines what power means and shares how you can find — and use — your own power. To learn more about Connect and join the group for free, visit http://www.linkedin.com/womenconnect.
Gloria Feldt, president of Take
the Lead, redefines what power means and shares how you can find — and use — your own power. How to Tap Into Your Power BROUGHT TO YOU BY
Meet Gloria Feldt! Gloria recently
answered questions from the members of Connect: Professional Women’s Network. Here is some of her most popular advice! Gloria Feldt is an author, activist and former CEO of the largest women’s reproductive health organization in the world. She’s also the co-founder and President of Take The Lead, whose mission is to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Gloria made the shift from being a leader to being a teacher and consultant with the mission of closing women’s leadership gaps across all sectors, in all industries and within every business and profession.
First Thing’s First: A Redefinition
of Power For too long, women have lived with but resisted embracing the traditional definition of power—the power over something or someone. When we redefine power as the power to—to accomplish good things in the world, to thrive as an individual, and, as a society, to transform our view of power to value authentic leadership more than domination—then we can rule the world.
What’s the next step for
women to seize their power? In the 20th century, women marched to get the vote and change discriminatory laws. In the 21st century, we must actualize the opportunities we have created for ourselves to take our rightful place in the fair and equal share of leadership.
How can women change their
thinking about power? First, take stock of the power we already have. We’ve been socialized to believe we have less than we do, but we have 85% of the purchasing power, 57% of college degrees, 54% of the vote and ample evidence that more women in leadership equals more profits. Women have power—but power unused is power useless.
How can we seize our
power on an individual level? Make a list of at least three points of power you have in your hands already. You then begin to see power you can embrace if you have the courage and will to do so.
What role can female entrepreneurs
play in the power shift? The explosion of female entrepreneurs is amazing, and we need to think big. I want to see the female version of a Steve Jobs or a Mark Zuckerberg soon—an innovator who doesn’t just start a successful business, but also creates a technology or way of thinking or interacting that changes how people live and thus creates wealth beyond even the norm of a profitable business.
How can female entrepreneurs can
support one another? Network and form a support system. You might be able to trade services, you might be able to leverage buying power or customer lists, you might spark new ideas or you might just be there to support and counsel each other. I call it Sister Courage. With a plan and strategy for action, you can make almost anything happen—you become a mini-movement.
How can we channel our
power to navigate our careers? We all have the “power to” 1) define our own terms in regard to what we hope to have accomplished in, say, five or 10 years, and 2) work backward from there to make a plan. If you’re feeling stale in your career, ask yourself what would make you feel enthusiastic again. Learning a new skill? Putting yourself up for a promotion? Moving on to something completely different? Use your answers to chart your course.
What’s the best way to
approach a potential mentor? Identify a half dozen or so of the women you most admire, in your field or not, and write to them requesting informational interviews. You’ll find most people are flattered by that. After the interviews, write up your notes so you retain the value of them for your own development, and write thank-you notes. One of those women might be the right mentor for you.
How do you make the
mental shift from employee to employer? This shift definitely requires a woman to embrace her power TO: to define her terms, articulate a vision and set the agenda. To have a healthy enough ego that you can stand on your own convictions. To regard chaos as opportunity and ride the wave of it even if it’s scary. To communicate and tell your company’s story well.
What do you do when
you’re being shut out from the top ranks by your male colleagues? Ask yourself these key questions: Do you document your accomplishments and schedule meetings to discuss your performance rather than waiting until evaluation time? Have you developed a personal advancement plan and discussed it with your supervisor to get feedback and alignment? Have you let your HR director know of your desire to apply for higher positions? Have you sought a mentor and, more importantly, a sponsor who will recommend you for positions?
…And if you’ve done all
that and you still feel underappreciated? There’s another company that will value your abilities. You might just want to find them and move on.
What are tips for reentering
the workforce after being laid off? The power of personal communications can’t be overestimated. Pick up the phone and ask for meetings, starting with people you already know and asking them for leads and for direct personal referrals for positions they know you’d be a good fit for. This takes a lot of determined work, but more jobs come from personal referrals than any other source.